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K-2: The Second Grade World of Louis Armstrong

by Dirk Robertson, Learn NC

Second grade students will explore the music of Louis Armstrong via booktalks, compact disc recordings, digital video disc recordings, and may pursue internet web-questing through Marco Polo ( and as a bonus!

A lesson plan for Grade 2 English Language Arts and Music Education

Students will learn:

  • the life history of Louis Armstrong that influenced his music.
  • how Louis Armstrong became proficient with his instrument (the trumpet), and see and hear performances with his band.
  • how Louis Armstrong invented “scat-singing” and listen to and watch examples of this singing techniques.
  • to complete a report replete with illustrations about Louis Armstrong which demonstrates knowledge gained about his life, playing, and singing.

Time required for lesson: 3 Days


  • obtain the following two books from a library or purchasing from Follett Library Resources (1-800-435-5114): If I Only Had a Horn by Orgill (Item #27141D4 ($13.60)) and What a Wonderful World by Weiss & Thiele (Item # 16561G5 ($13.60))
  • compact disc recording “Louis Armstrong’s All-Time Greatest Hits” from Amazon.Com ($18.98 retail price)
  • digital video disc recording of Ken Burns’ “Jazz” from PBS (borrow from a local library to avoid a $150+ expense!)

Technology resources

internet access to

purchase and/or download realplayer audio software from


Nothing! The lesson begins with the assumption that students have never heard the music of Louis Armstrong. The biographical resource book introduces his life and the other resources introduce his music.


Lesson One:

1. The teacher will read Louis Armstrong to the children and discuss his life and answer questions from the children.

2. The teacher will play examples of his singing and playing from the audio CD “Louis Armstrong’s Greatest Hits” (other than Track One “What a Wonderful World”)

Lesson Two:

1. The teacher will read (sing, if possible) the book What A Wonderful World

2. The teacher will PLAY “What a Wonderful World” on the audio CD and show the book illustrations again while Louis Armstrong sings for the students.

3. The teacher will then ask the students to watch Louis Armstrong perform on an excerpt from the “Jazz” DVD collection.

4. The students will be asked to read the book What a Wonderful World individually later in the day and use their aural memory of the reading and singing to read the text individually.

Lesson Three:

1. The teacher will do web-questing in and play the example “Heebie Jeebies” to demonstrate the invention of scat-singing.

2. The students will see an example of Louis Armstrong demonstrating scat-singing in an excerpt from the Ken Burns’ “Jazz” DVD.

3. Students will try a scat-singing exercise where the teacher starts a non-sensical scat-tune and let each student take a turn improvising their own scat-tune.

4. Students will be asked to use their aural memory of phonics to “write” their scat- tune in a report and develop and to write a glossary of “words” they created for their scat-tune.

Lesson Four:

The teacher will assign a report which asks the students to create a report about everything they have learned about Louis Armstrong and to draw a minimum of three illustrations illustrating the different music styles of Louis Armstrong’s performances (playing, “scat-singing,” and playing AND singing).


Go to the Satchmo Scoring Rubric for an evaluation rubric of the project.

The teacher will interview each individual student for a summation to see if they can answer questions about Louis Armstrong and his contribution to music:

  • What did he play? (trumpet)
  • What song did he sing which we heard? (“What a Wonderful World”)
  • How did he learn the trumpet? (he went to a reform school for teenagers and the music director at that school taught him)
  • What kind of special singing did he invent? (scat-singing)
  • Can you sing some scat for me now? (have students demonstrate scat!)

Supplemental information

Just prepare your knowledge of the life of Louis Armstrong!

Related websites


“What a Wonderful World” is a gorgeous song and the book illustrations are simply magnificent. Louis’ voice is very unique and grabs the attention of the student! They will enjoy the scat singing!

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